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Trouble at Work



Trouble at Work

Trouble in the workplace – whether it is bullying, harassment or stress – is always in the headlines. Yet, in many discussions, the research and statistics that are cited prove unreliable.  This book summarises the largest specialist research programme on ill-treatment in the workplace so far undertaken. It provides a powerful antidote to half-truths and misinformation and offers a new way of conceptualizing trouble at work, moving the discussion away from individualized explanations – and talk of ‘bullies’ and ‘victims’ – towards the workplace characteristics that cause trouble at work. The biggest problems arise where organisations fail to create a workplace culture in which individuals really matter. Paradoxically, these are often the organisations which are well-versed in modern management practices. Even though they may try their best to avoid the most troubled workplaces, minority employees continue to suffer more ill-treatment than others


Praise for Trouble at Work

Trouble at Work is an incredibly helpful piece of research, invaluable to anyone who cares about the situation of disabled people at work. It adds to our understanding of the issues and supports the work of both advocates and regulators.

Alan Christie
Director of Public Sector Policy CRE 2006-2007
Director of Policy EHRC 2007-2012


Focusing on a novel and broad conceptualisation of ‘trouble at work’, the authors present empirical evidence that different kinds of trouble at work coincide within organisations, with different problems such as workplace bullying, unreasonable treatment, and violence having overlapping causes and similar effects.  This presents an important advance in our understanding of these psychosocial problems and how to prevent them, and will be essential reading for scholars and practitioners across a wide range of disciplines.

Based on the most comprehensive study of ill-treatment in the workplace yet, this book extends current thinking on a range of psychosocial problems at work. Working with a rich data source, including large quantitative datasets, robust qualitative data from extensive interviews with employees on their experiences at work, and multiple case studies of organisations, the authors present an enlightening and innovative study across a range of workplace topics, including workplace bullying, fairness and rationality at work, civility and respect, and violence and injury.

A key contribution of this book is the introduction of a sociological lens to the problem of trouble at work; a much-needed theoretical advance in the literature, which is dominated by psychological and medical model thinking. Thus, the focus of the analysis is on the workplace itself rather than at the level of the individual, with issues such as employment relations, conflict, control, and unreasonable treatment emerging as key concerns.

I wholeheartedly endorse this book and commend it to anyone interested in the problem of ‘trouble at work’, in whatever form it manifests itself. 

Tim Bentley, Professor and Director, New Zealand Work and Labour Market Institute, AUT University, New Zealand


Professor Fevre’s book Trouble at Work is an important book in the field, by exploring through qualitative, case study type material the experiences of people who are under stress and have experienced bullying at work.  It takes a sociological perspective, drilling down to an individual’s experience, much needed in the social sciences...a must read for those interested in what makes for a troubled workplace.

Cary L. Cooper, CBE, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University


Trouble at Work presents seminal research that redefines the substantive area of negative workplace experiences conceptually and methodologically. In addition to including a range of behavioural manifestations, recognising their concomitance with social categories such as gender, ethnicity, religion, disability and so on addresses a significant caveat in our knowledge. Moreover, the sociological base expands disciplinary boundaries beyond micro-level insights towards multi-level contextual influences. Indeed, that Fevre, Lewis, Robinson and Jones have captured the subtleties of a sensitive and complex workplace issue without being reductionist is truly commendable.

Premilla D’Cruz, Associate Professor, Organizational Behaviour, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, India